Last night I went to see Junot Diaz speak at Ohio State University, and briefly hang out with C.C. Finlay and Rae Carson afterwards. A lot of resonance for me when he talked about the nature of diasporic writing. I mentioned to Charlie that although I read a lot when I was in the Caribbean, although my identity is bound up in being someone who thinks of himself as Caribbean and who now lives in another country, I didn’t read many diasporic writers growing up. Limited library access, my interest in genre and limited funds, and teachers who chose western canonical works, meant that I didn’t have access to a good library system until college.
By then I was beginning to break in and write my own stuff.
So to hear other writers thinking about identification and diaspora is thirsty man in the desert stuff for me.
I was also enjoying how familiar and practiced Junot was in front of a large audience. Since 2008 I’ve not been in front of audiences as much, because I can’t afford to front for my own travel. I enjoy Q&A, interaction, and reading. Less so prepared comments. Junot built that into this major presentation, and I’ve been trying to move toward that sort of environment for readings. Seeing someone do it well heartens me. I will be trying to weight readings/appearances in that natural direction in the future. Some very short readings with punch, a little bit of exposition about the nature of what’s being read, and lots of interaction with audience. It felt genuine, warm, and the time passed all too soon.